With the 2020 election cycle now over (all but the recounts and legal battles, at least), many of you might be celebrating the results, while more than a few might be disappointed, for... whatever reason. Maybe you're sorry Kanye didn't make it onto more than 12 states' ballots, maybe you're discouraged by the fact that the race was so close, or maybe you're just glad the campaign process is finally finished. However you feel about the overall results, though, one thing we can all be happy about is the fact that the movement for cannabis legalization scored a big victory on November 3rd.
It is impossible to see this as anything but a bipartisan victory, too, with all marijuana legalization measures in five different states (Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota) passing by significant margins. Despite political establishment opposition in Mississippi, for example, their propositions for allowing medical marijuana and establishing a medical marijuana program were both approved by over 67% of the voting populace. Their Republican governor, Tate Reeves, tweeted his opposition to these bills earlier in the week, but the people have clearly spoken.
In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, adult-use (or recreational) cannabis has been legalized, which makes a total of 15 states in which marijuana is now legal in this capacity. Mississippi and South Dakota have also legalized medical marijuana, and Oregon (which legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational use in 2014) passed bills legalizing the medical use of psilocybin (mushrooms) and decriminalizing small amounts of all other drugs, including heavy narcotics. Anyone familiar with the lies and propaganda spread in order to keep marijuana illegal for so long will surely see all of this as a massive victory for individual freedom.
Unfortunately, some who don't see things this way are some of those who also scored big victories in this election, such as Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, a "one-man 'no' machine" who will likely continue to oppose legislative measures to legalize cannabis on a federal level. In fact, McConnell may not have much of a fight over this issue, at least not from our newly elected president, who still opposes marijuana legalization in favor of mere decriminalization. Joe Biden has publicly changed his views on whether marijuana is a "gateway" drug, and admitted that he has been "part of the problem" (an understatement given his part in the War on Drugs), but it is as important as ever that we as citizens hold our elected officials accountable for the changes we want to see.
Even with many of the important seats in Congress and the Supreme Court still filled by anti-cannabis Republicans (and more than a few Democrats as well), and with commanding wins in this election from the likes of McConnell and Lindsey Graham, it's hard not to be encouraged by these big wins for cannabis legalization. Regardless of how they may still feel about it, the people have spoken, and what has been said by an overwhelming majority on all sides of our divided nation is that marijuana should be legal for adults to use medicinally and recreationally.
A wide range of celebrities, from Jim Belushi to Jay-Z, have invested in the cannabis industry in big ways that will only help to make it more mainstream, and organizations like the Last Prisoner Project are working hard to undo the injustices of the American Drug War, as these oppressive laws are inevitably changed. With record voting turnout and surprisingly progressive results from a number of historically more conservative states, there is good reason to hope that a brighter day is on the horizon.
Ultimately, all of our elected officials work for us, and with so many of us (Democrat, Republican, or otherwise) enjoying the benefits of the cannabis plant, a time is fast approaching when the outdated prohibition of this natural resource will go the same way as the ill-advised prohibition of alcohol that began a century ago.